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Task and human error analysis

Safety critical task analysis is one of my main specialities.  I have assisted many clients across different industries to identify their critical tasks, complete structured analyses (usually using Hierarchical Task Analysis), predict potential human errors and their consequences, review risk controls and evaluate Performance Influencing Factors (PIF).  This has been at operating sites and during new projects.  The output has been used to review and update procedures, training and competence systems, evaluate designs and developing human machine interfaces.

I find my chemical engineering knowledge and wide experience of applying human factors means I am particularly able at engaging with the people who perform tasks, typically in a workshop environment.  I find that something significant is learnt during most analyses, even for tasks that are very well established.

Click here for examples of my projects using task & human error analysis

Click here for a paper I wrote describing a task risk management approach and click here for a task & error analysis template I have developed.

Click here for a video animation for carrying out hierarchical task analysis and here for another video covering human error analysis.

Staffing assessments

Although I was not involved, I joined the consultancy (Entec) that developed the 'standard' method of assessing staffing arrangements in the process industries soon after they delivered it the Health and Safety Executive (published as Contract Research Report 348/2001). I quickly ended up regularly carrying out assessment for clients using the method, and still do so today.  I have no evidence to back this up, but I assume I have used the method more than anyone else. 

I find the method is a useful tool for structuring a discussion between the workforce and their managers about whether there are enough people, with the right competencies, organised in a way that allows them to handle hazardous situations effectively.  A testament to my assessments is that I have been invited back by clients a number of times to reassess their arrangements as a way of evaluating how well they are managing staffing and organisational change.

I was lead author in a user guide for the method on behalf of the Energy Institute, which you can obtain from their website. Also, I presented the Staffing and Workload module on the IChemE's human factors course for a number of years, which featured the method and my experience of using it.

Click here for examples of my projects involving staffing assessments

Click here for a paper I wrote documenting my first 10 years experience of staffing assessments

CRR 348/2001 provides a set of decision trees and assessment ladders.  I have updated these based on my experience of using the method in practice.  Click here to view my new version of the staffing assessment decision trees and here for my me new version of the assessment ladders.

Control room design and evaluation

The control room is one of the most critical components of any modern process plant, and involves a wide range of human factors issues that go well beyond the traditional view of what constitutes 'ergonomics.'  I have assisted clients with designing new control rooms and evaluating and modifying existing control rooms.  Also, I have helped a couple of clients by developing in house standards for control room design.

My focus is always on the tasks being performed from the control room and the impact the design will have on process safety risks.  This has to cover the human machine interfaces that are provided, including alarms.

Click here for a paper I wrote about control room design

Click here for examples of my projects involving control room design & evaluation

Alarm management and rationalisation

Many (most) companies have poor alarm systems.  They tend to create a lot of nuisance, and flood operators with alarms during a plant upset or non-routine situation.  EEMUA 191 is generally considered as the 'standard' for alarm management in the UK, although ISA 18.2 and BS EN 62682:2015 are also used.  

As well as helping a number of clients with alarm management and rationalisation, I also present a course on the subject approved by EEMUA.

Click here for examples of my projects involving alarm management & rationalisation

Click here for a video animation about alarm management and how to review and rationalise alarms (25 minutes)